Marinello School of Beauty students are still searching for solutions months after the for-profit chain shuttered all 56 branches of the school in February in the wake of a Department of Education investigation relating to financial aid practices.
The closure impacted more than 4,300 students. The school typically charged more than $20,000 to complete a 10-month cosmetology program.
According to a recent report
in the Victorville Daily Press, students were left with only two options after the sudden closure: "Seek loan forgiveness and forfeit any acquired hours, or credits, or keep the hours they’d worked to rack up along with their loans."
A federal panel is recommending that one of the nation's leading accreditor of for-profit colleges lose its authority.
The recommendation that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- ACICS -- be stripped of its accrediting authority could prove disastrous for more than 200 colleges currently selling programs to more than 800,000 students nationwide.
Accreditation is one of the lynchpin's of any college's ability to function and authority to tap into federal student loan programs. For decades, hundreds of the nation's for-profit colleges have turned to ACICS to obtain their stamp of accreditation approval.
ACICS, in turn, has enjoyed the authority to grant accreditation through an approval process with the U.S. Department of Education. But a federal panel that helps determine which accrediting bodies can provide accreditation is now a recommending that ACICS be eliminated from the Department of Education's approved list.
in the Wall Street Journal, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted 10-3 last month to shut down ACICS's accrediting authority. The U.S. Department of Education now has until September 2016 to determine the accreditor's fate.
If ACICS loses its authority to accredit for-profit colleges, each college and trade school currently accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accreditor.
ACICS accredited Corinthian Colleges, a massive for-profit education company that collapsed in 2015 amidst state and federal scrutiny of the school's marketing and placement practices.
Inside Higher Ed reports
that Paine College, a historically black college in Georgia, is facing the risk of loss of accreditation, an action that could jeopardize its eligibility for federal student loans.
According to Inside Higher Ed, "A loss of accreditation and ensuing ineligibility for federal funds would be a major blow to Paine, which lists its head count
at 534 students. More than 95 percent of its students receive financial aid. It has also suffered financial losses in recent years, with The Augusta Chronicle
reporting a loss of $2.9 million in assets through the end of 2014 and its draw on a line of credit increasing to $5.4 million. Late in 2015, Paine was unable to make payroll
for employees. Early in that year it suspended its football program
as it sought to shore up its financials."
Paine has announced that it will challenge the accreditation revocation step taken by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The three areas of deficiency cited by the accreditor are financial resources and stability, financial stability, and control of sponsored research/external funds. Paine has been on probation with the accreditor since 2014
South Carolina State is keeping its accreditation -- good news for the historically black college in Orangeburg that had been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges due to years of financial troubles.
The accrediting body announced that it was removing the university from probation after school leaders had set up a financial plan for securing its future.
Accreditation from a U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting body is critical to a college's viability because it provides students some assurance about the quality of the school's programs and it allows the school to receive federal financial aid from students who borrow from the government's student loan programs.
SC State's removal of accreditation was reported
by the Post and Courier.
A for-profit college chain, Brown Mackie College, is closing 22 campuses, with teach out options for thousands of students enrolled there uncertain.
As reported in The Consumerist, only four of 26 Brown Mackie campuses will continue to enroll students following the June 10 announcement.
Brown Mackie College boasted more than 17,000 across all of its campuses.
An e-mail sent to students stated in part, "Brown Mackie College… will stop enrolling new students into its programs today and teach-out current programs. We recognize that there is an ongoing commitment to students currently enrolled at the affected campuses. Our school is not immediately closing. We will work with you to determine your best path forward, whether you wish to stay and graduate or transfer to another school offering the same programs. We will also work with other educational institutions to put articulation agreements in place so that students have as many choices as possible regarding their education. We anticipate that the process will take approximately two years, depending on the location."
Brown Mackie is a chain of schools owned by Education Management Corp.
A top lobbyist for the for-profit college industry has told a reported that a new proposed regulation that would give students recourse against schools "will crush career education."
This stunning comment speaks volumes about the industry, notes
David Halperin of Huffington Post.
Halperin writes: "What does that say about the performance and intentions of the schools he represents? It says, I believe, that many of these schools have made a lot of their money, in reality, by deceiving, over-charging, and abusing students
, and if they can no longer do that with impunity, it’s game over. And that is indeed the point of the rule: Debt forgiveness for students who were deceived by colleges; requirements that troubled colleges put up cash to repay victims and taxpayers in the event of their demise; and a ban on colleges using fine-print clauses to deny injured students the right to seek damages in court (clauses that only for-profit colleges have been using)."
The "crush career education" comment was made by the Steve Gunderson, president of the nation's largest for-profit college lobbying group.
The U.S. Department of Education, following up on unprecedented scrutiny of the for-profit school industry, has announced sweeping proposed regulations "aimed at curbing bad actors in the for-profit colleges -- the latest move in their continued efforts to rein in private sector schools," U.S. News reports
“We won’t sit idly by while dodgy schools leave students with piles of debt and taxpayers holding the bag,” Secretary of Education John King said in a statement. “All students who are defrauded deserve an efficient, transparent, and fair path to the relief they are owed, and the schools should be held responsible for their actions.”
U.S. News reports that, "Among other things, the proposed regulations would streamline loan debt relief for student borrowers who were wronged by colleges found to have violated federal regulations and create a process for group-wide loan discharges when whole groups of students have been subject to the misconduct. They would also establish triggers to require institutions to put up funds if they violate federal regulations or show signs of financial risk."
"In addition, the proposed regulations would require financially risky schools and for-profit schools in which students have difficulty paying back their loans to provide warnings to prospective and current students and the public. The proposed rules would also make it simpler for eligible students who attended now-shuttered schools to have their student loans discharged," U.S. News added.
American Career Institute, a now-defunct for-profit school, has admitted in a consent judgment that it deceived students prior to its closure.
by Inside Higher Ed, the consent judgment with the Massachusetts Attorney General calls for more than $25 million in penalties, fees, relief and restitution. However, the amounts are largely uncollectible and suspended as a result of the school's insolvency, according to the AG's office. The office was able to obtain more than $2 million in discharges of private student debts owed to ACI in a separate court action, which is expected to help more than 700 former students. More than 1,400 former students may be eligible for additional discharges on federal student loans.
"Our office has achieved an unprecedented result against a predatory for-profit school that we hope will yield long overdue relief for thousands of ACI students in Massachusetts," said Attorney General Maura Healey in a news release. "We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education to secure immediate loan forgiveness for those affected and will continue to pursue institutions who engage in this illegal and unfair conduct."
According to the Inside Higher Ed report on the consent judgment, "ACI falsified student records, misrepresented graduation and job placement rates, deceived prospective students about employment, and unlawfully enrolled and collected tuition from students who did not qualify for federal loans and who didn't meet the minimum education requirements."
Dowling College, a small school on New York's Long Island, is closing effective Friday, creating potential problems for thousands of current students.
In recent months, the school had run into accreditation problems. The Wall Street Journal has reported that in November, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits colleges and universities, issued a statement requiring Dowling to prove why its accreditation shouldn’t be withdrawn, according to a document posted on the organization’s website.
In a written statement, Dowling president Albert Inserra said, "As painful as this announcement is, we want the student body, faculty, and alumni to know that we made every effort to form a suitable academic affiliation so that we could keep the college open."
According to an Associated Press report, the college was roughly $54 million in debt, and enrollment has dropped by 50 percent since 2009 to approximately 2,500 students.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that in July of 2015, Dowling became the first higher-education institution rated by Moody’s Investors Service to default, according to a Moody’s spokesman.
College officials have said a "teach out" with Molloy College may be worked out.
If you are a current Dowling student with concerns about the school's closing that you wish to share with attorneys at College Watchdogs, you may do so here
or by calling 1-877-540-8333. The attorneys at College Watchdogs have pursued claims on behalf of former students of closed school in lawsuits in Michigan, Florida and Alabama, among other states.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports
that St. Catherine College in central Kentucky is closing after 85 years of operation, citing enrollment declines and the unavailability of federal student loan funds due to a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education.
According to the newspaper, "Administrators at the college said they had reached out to other institutions to establish teach-out plans for current students, and summer camps and classes will continue as scheduled, according to the statement. The college was expected to enroll a class of around 475 students in the fall semester. It employed 118 full-time faculty and staff members, as well as numerous part-time staff members and adjunct instructors."